For most dog lovers, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to verify that their dog’s kibble contains the right ratio of Calcium and Phosphorus in connection with ME (metabolizable energy), based on the calorie availability (for example, meat vs. cellulose).
As I mentioned above, cellulose (wood chips), or other forms of fibre and indigestible diet components, are used to bulk up the volume of food, but they are not a bioavailable energy source. You can also see practical evidence of this by comparing the bowel movement size from dogs on kibble vs. that of those on raw food. Kibble fed dogs produce a much larger volume of feces. The difference is striking!
This means that while the Ca/P ratio per 1000 calories of food may look good on paper and in the lab, it can be completely off when it comes to bioavailable calcium and phosphorus.
What are the implications of all this?
Having the opportunity to see thousands of dogs in practice, most of the growth-related issues I have seen, including hip dysplasia, cartilage growth disorders, fragmentation (osteochondritis dissecans), and growing pains (panosteitis) affect dogs on kibble.
Dogs on such foods appear to grow faster, lankier, and weaker, similarly to over-fertilized plants that grow fast and weak. Kibble is much more energy dense. Dogs can consume more calories before they feel satiated, and the bioavailability of nutrients fluctuates heavily based on the ingredients. In other words, kibble fed dogs are “over-fertilized” too.
Nature has the answer!
Since I began feeding and recommending raw food in the late 90’s, I rarely see dogs being fed a raw or cooked whole-food diet affected by hip dysplasia, panosteitis or cartilage, joint, and abnormal growth disorders.
Dogs fed raw or cooked diets that include meat, raw bones, and vegetables along with natural vitamins and other supplements for dogs, grow slower and are stronger. This allows the body to build good structure as well as healthy bones and joints, even in dog breeds that are supposedly predisposed towards these problems.
Such an approach works consistently well, and I can say – with confidence – that a whole-food raw or cooked diet, including the essential supplements, yields far superior results and dramatically reduces growth abnormalities and bone and joint disease. I have seen this in my patients, and also in my own dogs.
Instead of focusing on trying to follow the hard to apply Calcium/Phosphorus recommendations, or be misled by organizations sponsored by processed pet food companies, I recommend feeding our dogs a diet that is as close to the natural diet of canines as possible. Such a diet consists of a variety of meat, bones, and vegetables, and includes supplements.